Cemetery Etiquette

Cemetery Etiquette:
A cemetery is a unique place. While it is part of the everyday scene, it is not part of everyday life. That is to say, it is a place where tranquility and quiet are the desired norm, and activities of everyday life should be suspended.  Knowing proper cemetery etiquette isn’t always as common sense as people may think.  It can be helpful to review cemetery rules prior to attending a burial or visiting a deceased loved one.

Cemetery visitors should:

  • Follow cemetery rules.  Most have a sign near the entrance stating hours, rules about decorations, etc. Obey these rules.
  • Never bring alcohol or firearms to a cemetery.
  • Keep children in ‘check.’   No running, yelling, or rolling around on the ground. This is not a place for childhood games. Don’t let them play on any of the monuments. While it is good to get children used to paying respects at a cemetery, they often don’t fully understand the meaning of everything in the cemetery.
  • Don’t litter.  This includes cigarette butts. It shows disrespect to the other families who come to mourn their loved ones. “Pack your trash” is a good rule of thumb: take your refuse with you when you go, or put it in trash receptacles.
  • Follow the roadways and don’t drive on the grass.  Drive slowly and obey any traffic signs posted in the cemetery. Be careful to avoid any people since they might be upset and not paying complete attention to where they are going.
  • Do your best to not walk over the graves.  Common sense leads you to know the basic shape of a grave; walk in between the headstones, and don’t stand on top of a burial place.
  • Be Sympathetic.  Do not play loud music in cars, with the windows down, for everyone to hear.
  • Be respectful.  Keep the volume of voices down, and don’t use offensive language.
  • Don’t be overly friendly when talking to strangers.  Other visitors may want to be alone.
  • Don’t touch any monuments or gravestones.  They are very meaningful to the families who placed them there. Some older memorials might be in disrepair and might fall apart under the slightest touch.
  • Don’t take photos of other people or other funerals.  This is a very private time for people. It’s best to steer clear of any funerals occurring, and don’t get in the way of funeral processions.
  • Try not to remain in the cemetery after dark.  Most cemeteries are open from dawn to dusk.